Tags: presidency

Race and Gender Do Matter

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Monday, 21 Jan 2008 09:00 AM Current | Bio | Archive

I’m sure you’ve heard it in these last few days, just as I have.

First, Bill Clinton in New Hampshire, doing his “slick” best to head off an Obama defeat of his wife, criticized the junior senator from Illinois for statements he’d made, calling his ideas “fantasy,” and a “fairy tale.” There were immediate outcries Clinton had played some kind of “race card.”

He went on radio with Al Sharpton, that renowned arbiter of all things racial, and assured one and all that he didn’t mean to imply that Obama’s campaign was “a fairy tale” — only that some of the young man’s ideas were misinformed and naïve.

Then, as Democrat strategists warned the candidates that attacks on each other might weaken the candidacy of whichever of them did get the nomination, they both declared that “race and gender should not be issues in this campaign.”

Oh, really? Well, what would we expect a black candidate and a female one, both hoping to become the first in either category to become the leader of the free world, to say? The statement, by itself, betrays either an incredible naiveté or the hope that a gullible populace will swallow that idea as if it were true.

The blatant truth is that race and gender are — and deserve to be — vital issues in this coming election.

First, the racial one. It’s obvious that, above and beyond all the things that should qualify any candidate, the selection of a black president will make a statement to the rest of the world that America today stands by its founding principle that all men are created equal.

Surely, this realization is a major motivation for Obama and his followers, and a very attractive idea for so many of the youngest voters. Race is an issue, a very significant one, though probably Bill and Hillary wish it weren’t.

For almost 40 years, I’ve been actively urging the Republican party, the party of Lincoln, to put forward able and qualified black candidates for every office, from state to congress and all the way to the presidency.

I was a Reagan delegate from California to the Republican convention in 1976. And as I stumped vigorously for my friend Ron Reagan, I also took every opportunity to promote black candidates on the floor and in private meetings. “It’s going to happen; there will be black senators and congressmen and eventually a black president,” I said. “Why shouldn’t the party of Abraham Lincoln, and not the Democrat party whose Southern members launched the KKK to scare blacks from the polls, be the one that elects a qualified black leader?”

On the return flight home I was talking about it to John Dean, who was covering the convention for Rolling Stone. Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz walked up, chimed in with a despicable racial joke, and had to resign as a result of being quoted in Dean’s article. A dispiriting scene in the midst of my crusade to put forward qualified black candidates!

But notice I say “qualified.” Just a few years back, many of us hoped Gen. Colin Powell, an eminently able, proven leader, would become our candidate for president. I have no doubt he’d have been elected — and would have been America’s first black president. Evidently dissuaded by his wife from running, he wound up being secretary of state. Otherwise, I believe he’d have been the second Ike Eisenhower, just when we needed one. And as military and diplomatic leader, his performance and stature would have permanently made questions about race in politics a thing of the past.

Now, pause and consider realistically whether young, inexperienced Barack Hussein Obama can possibly measure up to the qualifications of a Colin Powell? Or truly confront an Osama bin Laden and his terrorist legions? This will be priority one for our next president.

And now, gender. Many will bristle when I say this, but, while I’m well aware there are women who can do almost anything a man can do, in my long considered view, they shouldn’t.

Remember, I have an exceptionally capable wife, four multitalented daughters, and 10 granddaughters. I’m no “male chauvinist,” however . . .

Women shouldn’t be trained to kill, to engage in hand-to-hand combat, or to risk death facing hate crazed enemies. What man wants to let that happen, no matter how it might appeal to some women themselves? Sure, they can . . . but they shouldn’t. If it must be done, it’s a man’s job, a man’s duty.

Yes, I'm well aware of Deborah, in the Book of Judges in the Bible, who led Israel to a resounding military victory. But God first called on another Barak, the Israelite general, to mount the charge, and he refused to do it unless Deborah went with him, almost to hold his hand! So God turned the battle over to Deborah and it became a woman’s victory — to the everlasting disgrace of Barak , the intended and preferred leader.

And that’s how I feel about the idea of a woman president. Face it, Americans will elect a woman their leader only if there seem to be no qualified men — only if they feel she’s the best we can come up with. Have we come to that? Can neither party present a man who so clearly has the leadership qualities we need that we’ll decide to accept a woman — to sit across from Vladimir Putin or the Chinese, Korean, or Pakistani leaders who all despise the idea of having to treat a woman as their equal, politically or otherwise? A woman to be the commander in chief of our armed forces?

Can you imagine Hillary vowing to “pursue Osama to the gates of hell” as Sen. McCain did, or declaiming from the Berlin wall “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” as Ronald Reagan did?

Friends, can we just acknowledge that gender and race are indisputably crucial issues this election season? Now, may the same be true of experience and character.

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I’m sure you’ve heard it in these last few days, just as I have. First, Bill Clinton in New Hampshire, doing his “slick” best to head off an Obama defeat of his wife, criticized the junior senator from Illinois for statements he’d made, calling his ideas “fantasy,” and a...
presidency
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2008-00-21
Monday, 21 Jan 2008 09:00 AM
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